Illinois journalists have been on Gov. Pat Quinn’s case for a month since the Illinois lawmaker forbade them from touring state prisons, citing a “security risk.” Curious about the sudden change in policy while two major state facilities face closure despite overcrowding, the Associated Press filed a FOIA with the state to see just who had been allowed access to tour the state’s prisons where journalists had been forbidden. But even that request was rejected by Quinn’s office. From the AP:
Corrections’ denial of information about tours also raises accountability questions. How severe is the purported “security risk” if only individual prison wardens, and not their bosses in Springfield, have records of who’s getting inside?
“If the governor is claiming there are legitimate security concerns, I do think it would be important for his senior staff or administrators to know who is or who is not being admitted for a tour,” said Rep. Jason Barickman, a Republican whose district includes the Dwight and Pontiac prisons.
He and other members of the General Assembly say they have been allowed to visit various lockups within the past year. Lawmakers have not embraced Quinn’s closure plan and included money in the budget to keep the prisons open.
The AP requested information on organized tours by community groups, lawmakers, reporters or others. Corrections responded that “there is no central repository for these documents” and offered, under the law, to consider a “narrowed” request — in this case, information from just two prisons out of two dozen.
Shocker: that request was denied, too.